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Mas for the elite

By Newsday Staff Wednesday, March 5 2014

click on pic to zoom in

The Carnival is being destroyed and is becoming a masquerade for the elite.

This was the lament of spectators and vendors in Port-of-Spain yesterday as they complained of a split in the Parade of the Bands due to a second main stage in the capital: the Socadrome at Jean Pierre Complex.

They knocked the National Carnival Commission (NCC) and the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) for poor planning, saying while the diversion of at least four large party bands, numbering tens of thousands, from the mecca of the festival, the Queen’s Park Savannah, helped ease the congestion at this venue, it created another problem.

The congestion was transferred to streets in Woodbrook, as the bands: Tribe, Yuma, Bliss, Passion and Harts, as well as smaller band Rosalind Gabriel & Associates, made their way to their own stage at the Jean Pierre Complex. Harts still stuck to its plan to cross the Savannah and was the first band to cross at this venue.

However, smaller bands moving through Woodbrook said they were stalled attempting to make it to central venues at Adam Smith Square and Victoria Square, which was “dead” early yesterday. Also, for unclear reasons, the parade was slow at South Quay in downtown Port-of-Spain with long lulls in between bands.

For most of the morning, from the time of the parade’s start at 8 am up to midday, there was no activity at these venues, leaving spectators with few bands to see and vendors with no one to sell to.

“Carnival is now only for the elite,” Richard Mohammed declared, who after waiting on the Brian Lara Promenade in downtown Port-of-Spain since early morning, had only seen “two pieces of bands” by 12.30 pm.

“The organisers are taking away Carnival from the everyday Joe. It is the same people doing a lot of rubbish,” he said.

Mohammed said the split mirrored what occurred with the children’s parade of the bands on Carnival Saturday. The junior parade was also split between a starting point at Ariapita Avenue from Adam Smith Square to the Savannah, organised by the NCBA, and a parade at South Quay, which the Port-of-Spain City Council organised in response to the NCBA’s changes.

In downtown, everyone Newsday spoke with was in favour of the traditional routes to the Queen’s Park Savannah, while vendors complained of poor sales due to poor band and spectators turnout. Only 15 bands had passed the South Quay judging point by 4 pm with several minutes of waiting in-between.

Spectators along Broadway, Frederick Street, Lower St Vincent Street, and the Brian Lara Promenade complained about the bands trickling down the road.

The mainly bikini-clad Island People band led the way downtown for a series of similarly clad bands.

The exception to the rule during the morning hours was a section of D Harvard Band which featured Dame Lorraines, jesters and costumed moko jumbies.

Trinidadian Rhona Clarke who lives in Toronto and returns often for Carnival described the parade as a “disaster”.

“The disaster we have been experiencing this year, is not encouraging. I don’t think I am coming back for Carnival,” she said.

Sitting in the Brian Lara Promenade with her family, Anne Marie Elias-Smith, of Arima, said Carnival has become an event for high society. “It no longer includes poor people, even as spectators.”

Noting that in the past the promenade was a hive of activity by noon, she said the split in the route had taken away the pulse beat of Carnival. She noted also music trucks would be playing music in the promenade, but they were noticeably absent.

The vendors, too, were apprehensive that their investment would amount to nought. Vendors along Lower St Vincent Street said they paid $800 for their spots, and $50 for “bar licences”. Drinks vendor, Brendan David said he saw a 75 to 80 percent drop in sales this year compared to last year. He, like most others, was not sure he was going to make back his investment. Meanwhile uptown, small bands such as D Harvard Posse had some challenges moving through Woodbrook as they crossed paths with two large bands. Heading west on Tragarete Road, back to their base near Serpentine Road, they were stopped by police at Pole Carew Street.



They were instructed to go down Pole Carew Street, onto Ariapita Avenue and then back up Damian Street to return to Tragarete Road. On their way up Damian Street, a masquerader said they encountered half of the bands Tribe and Bliss, who were also heading up the street.

“There were a lot of masqueraders all over the street without music because they had lost their bands. It seems half of them had finished the parade at the Socadrome and wanted to cross the Savannah stage while the other half were going up Pole Carew Street,” she said. Neither band crossed the Savannah.

Overall there was an intermittent flow of from Victoria Square to Ariapita Avenue, and, like at South Quay, spectators had to wait for hours to see bands.

“I have been here since 9 am, and I have only seen three mini bands – very mini. Even the DJ was on wheels. There was not even a proper truck,” said Denzil Winsborrow, who came from London to view the parade.

Winsborrow said for the past six years he has been coming to see Trinidad’s Carnival, and expressed disappointment at the lack of activity.

“Some people are going home,” he said.

Guy Massiah and his family were camped out at Lapeyrouse Cemetery since 6 am waiting for the bands to pass. Speaking to Newsday at midday yesterday, he said he has only seen two small bands as well.

“This is the very terrible. Clearly Carnival was poorly organised this year. Foreigners are coming down here and they are not seeing much. These people pay their money to fly down here, and they can’t see much,” Massiah said.

However, around 12.30 pm, more bands began to pass through Ariapita Avenue and onto Victoria Square.

The bands that passed through Ariapita Avenue from between 12.30 pm and 3 pm include the Word and Associates (also known as the Catholic Band), Yuma, Harvard Revellers, and Ronnie and Caro.

Felix Edinborough, bandleader of the Word and Associates, said he encountered no problems with his band aside for a minor congestion on Tragarete Road.















They were instructed to go down Pole Carew Street, onto Ariapita Avenue and then back up Damian Street to return to Tragarete Road. On their way up Damian Street, a masquerader said they encountered half of the bands Tribe and Bliss, who were also heading up the street.

“There were a lot of masqueraders all over the street without music because they had lost their bands. It seems half of them had finished the parade at the Socadrome and wanted to cross the Savannah stage while the other half were going up Pole Carew Street,” she said. Neither band crossed the Savannah.

Overall there was an intermittent flow from Victoria Square to Ariapita Avenue, and, like at South Quay, spectators had to wait for hours to see bands.

“I have been here since 9 am, and I have only seen three mini bands – very mini. Even the DJ was on wheels. There was not even a proper truck,” said Denzil Winsborrow, who came from London to view the parade. Winsborrow said for the past six years he has been coming to see Trinidad’s Carnival, and expressed disappointment at the lack of activity. “Some people are going home,” he said.

Guy Massiah and his family were camped out at Lapeyrouse Cemetery since 6 am waiting for the bands to pass. Speaking to Newsday at midday yesterday, he said he had only seen two small bands as well.

“This is the very terrible. Clearly Carnival was poorly organised this year. Foreigners are coming down here and they are not seeing much. These people pay their money to fly down here, and they can’t see much,” Massiah said. However, at about 12.30 pm, more bands began to pass through Ariapita Avenue and onto Victoria Square.

The bands that passed through Ariapita Avenue from between 12.30 pm and 3 pm include the Word and Associates (also known as the Catholic Band), Yuma, Harvard Revellers, and Ronnie and Caro.

Felix Edinborough, bandleader of the Word and Associates, said he encountered no problems with his band aside for a minor congestion on Tragarete Road.

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